Not bad, it’s been about two months since my last batch of mini-book reviews, lol 😛 As always, this batch features books I’ve read that, while I had a few thoughts on it, they didn’t warrant review posts of their own. Included in this batch of reviews are mostly classics and one fantasy novella 😉
Lively, absorbing, often outrageously funny, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a work of genius, an undisputed classic that has held a special appeal for each generation of readers. The Tales gathers twenty-nine of literature’s most enduring (and endearing) characters in a vivid group portrait that captures the full spectrum of medieval society, from the exalted Knight to the humble Plowman.
Gah, I finally got around to reading this! It’s been on my wishlist for quite a long time and I actually started listening to bits of it last year via LibriVox when I was sick but I got impatient in the end and picked up a copy of the book. Well, I appreciate how expansive this classic is, featuring people from all walks of life in Medieval England and taking part in this tale. The stories range from chivalrous and thematic to bawdy and hilarious and some where more interesting that others but yeah, it’s one of those classics you can’t just pick up on a whim. In restrospect, I think perhaps I should’ve have chosen this book as my travelling read whenever I was outside (not to mention it made for a hefty carry in my purse) but some of them were so long that they just didn’t hold my interest like others. So yeah, it was an okay reading experience for me overall but I’m glad I took a crack at it 😛
The Oresteia By: Aeschylus Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
In the Oresteia—the only trilogy in Greek drama which survives from antiquity—Aeschylus took as his subject the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of Argos.
Moving from darkness to light, from rage to self-governance, from primitive ritual to civilized institution, their spirit of struggle and regeneration becomes an everlasting song of celebration.
This Greek drama piqued my interest after it was mentioned in one of the Sebastian St. Cyr novels (see tag) I was reading at the time. To date the only Greek drama I’ve read has been from Sophocles (err…I never reviewed it? I’m surprised) but I’m always open to checking out more Greek drama and classical theatre, especially as I’m slowly dwindling down on the popular Renaissance/Jacobean titles (I know there’s plenty else out there to check out, not to mention those from other countries, but it’s nice to get through the famous ones first). Anyway, I was quite excited to start reading these plays after writing my board exam a few months ago (case in point) 🙂
You may have noticed this week amongst the book community that Shakespeare’s life and works has been of much discussion as we celebrate his 400th death anniversary (or thereabouts). For the past week I’ve been posting up reviews of recent adaptations that I had watched, but I decided whilst I was reading quotes and the like on Twitter that I wanted to do something else as well. I’ve already compiled my list of favourite plays (see here) but this time I would like to talk about my most memorable characters that I’ve encountered in Shakespeare’s places. Because there’s been a few 😉
In no particular order:
Touchstone from As You Like It (review) — He’s actually the reason why I wanted to compile this list to begin with. He’s absolutely hilarious, and so witty, so it was absurdly amusing to read and watch his survive in the Forest of Arden, away from court, where his wit would languish amongst the shepherds and laymen. But he had some of the best lines and scenes of the whole play so yeah, very memorable (and Dominic Rowan’s performance in the 2009 stage production was absolutely perfect (see post)).
Malvolio from Twelfth Night (review) — Kind of tough call to say who was the most memorable character for me from this play as I love it to bits but Malvolio and his yellow stockings, yo, how could one forget that?
Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet (review) — Another scene-stealer, he’s pretty hilarious to the point of craziness but he injects so much life and energy to his scenes, especially in contrast to Romeo’s lovestruckness and the looming tragedy ahead. I reckon it’s one of those roles actors love to take on.
Mark Antony from Julius Caesar (review) — I re-read the play recently and while his “Friends! Romans! Countrymen!” speech is one of my favourites hands down from Shakespeare, I love how his character sort of flourished after Caesar’s death and he really goes after the conspirators in a rather sneaky way that no one suspected (well, we know he’s out to get them, but the stage characters don’t!).
Beatrice & Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing (review) — There’s no way I could choose one over the other, the sparks were crazy electric with these two and really stole the show with their endless bantering.
Richard III from Richard III (review) — Omg this guy. He’s such a smooth talker as he’s manipulating everyone around him and working his way to becoming king. His schemes are elaborate and he’s pretty ruthless at getting what he wants, but you can’t help but feel rather astounded at the way he went about it all and planned everything out.
Hamlet from Hamlet (review) — Naturalemente. Though it took a second read years later to really appreciate the complexity of what Hamlet was going through and the situation that was before him. Definitely puts the complexity of human uncertainty and existentialism to the forefront here.
The Devil’s Nebula (Weird Space #1) By: Eric Brown Format/Source: eBook; courtesy of Rebellion Publications
Best-selling author Eric Brown has created a brand new shared world for Abaddon Books: Weird Space. This thrilling space-opera series will begin with the release of The Devil’s Nebula. Brown will introduce readers to the human smugglers, veterans and ne’erdowells who are part of the Expansion – and their uneasy neighbours, the Vetch Empire. When an evil race threatens not only the Expansion, but the Vetch too – an evil from another dimension which infests humans and Vetch alike and bends individuals to do their hideous bidding, only cooperation between them means the difference between a chance of survival and no chance at all.
I received a copy of this book when I signed up for Rebellion Publication’s newsletter which was cool. Unfortunately a few chapters into the book I had to put it down: the characters didn’t strike my interest and despite throwing readers directly into the action from the get-go I just wasn’t interested. I’m normally all for spac opera but this just didn’t catch my attention at all, and with so many other books on my TBR pile, yeah, I had to put it down.
A View from the Bridge By: Arthur Miller Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Arthur Miller explores the intersection between one man’s self-delusion and the brutal trajectory of fate. Eddie Carbone is a Brooklyn longshoreman, a hard-working man whose life has been soothingly predictable. He hasn’t counted on the arrival of two of his wife’s relatives, illegal immigrants from Italy; nor has he recognized his true feelings for his beautiful niece, Catherine. And in due course, what Eddie doesn’t know—about her, about life, about his own heart—will have devastating consequences.
I first encountered Arthur Miller in Grade 12 English class when we read Death of a Salesman. I suppose the impression that stayed with me all these years about this play was how the characters were regular, everyday people with everyday problems that you can immediately relate to. I never thought to visit any of his other works until recently when I read some great buzz surrounding the recent production at the Young Vic starring Mark Strong (who won an Olivier earlier this year for his performance as Eddie Carbone). It looks really intense, I was intrigued to check this play out: